February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month and we want to take a moment to talk about gum health. Let’s first start by explaining what the gum tissue is. Your gums are the pink tissue surrounding your teeth and are responsible for holding them in place. Healthy gum tissue should be pink and firm, fitting snugly around the teeth.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums. The earliest stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis while the later stage is known as periodontal disease.
Signs of gum disease can include:
- Swollen puffy gum tissue
- Bright red tissues
- Bleeding gums
- Sensitivity and pain
- Bad breath
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus and sores in the mouth
- Receding gums
Causes of Gum Disease
Gum disease is normally caused by poor oral hygiene, however other factors might play a role as well, which include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Crooked or overlapping teeth which inhibit proper flossing and brushing
- Hormonal changes
- Mouth breathing
- Poor nutrition – eating a diet very high in sugar
- Diabetes mellitus
- Lack of dental care
- Poor saliva production
Treatment of Gum Disease
Treatment will depend on the stage of gum disease you are experiencing, however, the main priority in treatment is to control the infection. In order to diagnose the disease your dentist will perform an oral exam, use a probe to measure the depth of the pockets around the teeth, ask about your medical history, and potentially take x-rays and refer you to a periodontist. The treatment will vary from patient to patient.
Prevention of Gum Disease
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are the best ways to prevent gum disease. Proper oral hygiene will significantly decrease your risk of developing this disease. Other tips that can help decrease your risk include:
- Regular dental check ups
- Drinking water after eating
- Chewing sugarfree gum after eating or drinking anything with sugar in it
- Quit smoking and using tobacco products
If you are concerned that you have the signs and symptoms of gum disease schedule an appointment as soon as possible to see your dentist.